- Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 November 2020 20:32
- Written by GRAHAM BROOKS
MILESTONES, DIRECTION STONES AND BOUNDARY STONES.
Since the earliest times man has erected stones to mark his territory and show people the way. There is theories that Neolithic man used standing stones to direct people to the green tuff stone on the Langdale Pikes, so favoured for hand axes. (See Gabriel Blamires book Guidestones to the Great Langdale axe factory).
The first certain users of milestones were the Romans and the museums of Cumbria hold a number of stones which have inscriptions on them showing that they were used to indicate distance and directions to a number of places. Unfortunately none of the stones still standing in their original positions have legible inscriptions on them.
Roman milestone near Vindolanda.
the original milestones were originally put forward by local justices of the peace under an act of 1698. This had an amending order of 1738 it became compulsory to state distances to the next market town. The distance on the stones is either in customary miles or statutory miles. The customary mile was usually just under 1½ statuory mile. The customary mile remained in use until the l18th century.
The majority of the milestones now existing can be dated to the formation of Turnpikes along the road. Usually as part of the statute setting up the turnpike was the requirement to erect milestones. The design of these stones and their complexity of inscription can vary greatly from a single initial for the town and a figure for the distance. (you need to know the name of either the next town or the town at which the tunrpke ends to use these).
Millepost at Cowgill Dentdale 'S' stands for Sedburgh.
Through to long lists of places allong the route.
Mile post at end of Alston High St showing distance all the nearest habitations allong each of the turnpikes leaving Alston.
The above stone gives the distance to nearest half mile (Hexham 23½ miles) Some stones show the distance down to the furlong or even down to yards or furlongs.
A CAST IRON PLATE ON STONE AT IRON BRIDGE.
The example above shows a milestone on which a cast iron plate with the details. I have included these in this section of stone structures. I have also included solid cast iron mileposts in this section. (They could be included in the section on sign posts)
Stone marking boundary between the parishes of Dent and Bardon
During the medieval period stones were erected both to direct people to their destination and also just to act as boundary markers especially for parishes.
Stones have been set up to mark other boundaries such as between land owners especially over mineral rights, around towns showing their area for market tolls etc.